So you’ve finally decided to get a mechanical keyboard for gaming but you don’t know exactly which one to buy. This article will explain to you the different things you have to look out for when buying a mechanical keyboard so that you’ll be able to choose one that fits you well.
What Is A Mechanical Keyboard
Unlike your ordinary and common keyboards, mechanical keyboards have switches under each key. These switches are made of different parts, usually a stem and a spring mechanism that, depending on the kind of switch, gives the user a better feeling when typing compared to the ordinary membrane keyboards.
Why Choose A Mechanical Keyboard For Gaming
Compared to the usual membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards generally have higher quality in build and durability. Mechanical keyboards for gaming are specifically made to cater to gamers and their needs.
One of the biggest advantages of mechanical keyboards for gaming is because of its anti-ghosting capability. According to Asus, anti-ghosting addresses the issue when other keys fail after pressing more than 6 keys in the keyboard. There are games where APM is a very big factor and mechanical keyboards allows you not to worry about whether your keyboard clicks have been registered or not.
There are Cherry MX switches with a rated lifespan of 100 Million clicks whereas ordinary rubber dome keyboards have 5 million clicks. Although it depends on how a person uses their keyboards but typically, other parts of your keyboard may break before your switches do. But if you’re pretty careful with your mechanical keyboard and maintenance, it will still feel as if it was newly bought after 2 years. It’s good to grind games with a keyboard that you know can handle a bit of a rough ride.
While this might be quite subjective as there are other people who prefer rubber dome keyboards even after getting mechanical ones for gaming, it’s just way better in terms of feel. Because of the way switches work, you’ll definitely know for sure that your keystroke registered when you pressed on a key. If you’ve used mechanical keyboards for quite some time and love it, you’ll absolutely feel that the ordinary membrane keyboards are too mushy for your fingers when gaming.
Different Factors In Choosing A Mechanical Keyboard
This is the starting point in choosing your mechanical keyboard. How much you’re willing to spend on your keyboard will dictate the amount of choices you have available to you. Don’t be misled, a cheap mechanical keyboard doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good at all. There are options under $50 that are already quite decent for gaming. If you just need something to get you started, that’s no problem at all.
There are also high-end keyboards that can cost you upwards of $100. Most of them have really good builds, lots of features, and can also come with accessories you won’t find in lower priced mechanical keyboards.
The most important thing with your budget is not to force yourself to buy something you don’t want to. If you think that you’re comfortable with spending just $50 for a keyboard, then go for it. If you only have $50 but you really want to get something that’s more than that, just save up a bit until you have enough. Your keyboard is your partner in gaming and it’s important to get something you’re content with.
Switches are the heart and soul of mechanical keyboards. Different brands and different models use different mechanical switches. Generally speaking, there are three different kinds of switches:
- Linear – smooth and typically quiet switch. Preferred by gamers as switches go straight down which is why it’s good for double tapping or even button mashing.
- Tactile – switches with a tactile feedback or a bump that you can feel that lets you know that your keystroke has been registered. This is the safe choice as they’re typically quiet but you can feel still when your keystroke has been registered.
- Clicky – just like tactile switches it has a bump and also features an audible click. This is preferred by typists.
Each person has their own preference when it comes to the switches they want on their mechanical keyboards. What may work for you may not be what your friend likes. The point is that it’s better if you can feel first hand which key you like. Go to a shop and see if you can test some of their keyboards.
Also, here’s our guide on which mechanical keyboard switch is for you.
There are different sizes of mechanical keyboards and depending on your needs or visual preference, choose one that fits right for you. These three below are the common form factors of mechanical keyboards:
This is the form factor of your common keyboard. Chances are, the keyboard you’re using looks like this. It typically has the following keys:
- Alpha-numeric keys
- Function keys
- Print screen, Scroll Lock, Pause, and navigation keys above the arrow keys
Tenkeyless or TKL
Just the full sized keyboard minus the numpad. The advantage of using this form factor is that it takes up less space on your desk/table which is equal to more space for your mouse. They’re also lighter and more portable than the full sized keyboards.
If you thought that TKL was already a small keyboard, 60% ones are even smaller. These keyboards omit the function keys, the navigation keys, and also the arrow keys that are usually present in TKLs. They are definitely lighter and more portable compared to TKL keyboards but they might take some time to get used to.
More and more mechanical keyboards are now wireless and can connect to your devices via a usb dongle or bluetooth. There are even gaming keyboards that feature this capability as it makes it easier for users to just use their keyboards in any place or position they find comfortable, not just stuck to their desk.
Some people are casual gamers and they also use a considerable chunk of their time doing other things on their computer. As such, it can be quite advantageous to have a wireless keyboard.
It also makes sense to choose a wired mechanical keyboard for gaming. Wired keyboards have less latency compared to wireless keyboards. If you’re playing games that really require fast responses, sticking to wired keyboards might be your best bet. Your keyboard suddenly running out of juice during a late game clash isn’t exactly might not be something you want to take a chance on. Preventable but technically, it can happen.
Personally speaking, this is not really a big deal for me as it really doesn’t add anything to your gaming. However, if aesthetics is something that matters for you, then by all means go for an RGB mechanical keyboard! Especially if you have a color theme for your gaming set-up, it makes total sense to also have an RGB keyboard.
Just take note that not all keyboards have the same RGB settings. Some keyboards especially the lower priced ones have a set of lighting settings that are fixed. Higher priced keyboards usually have programs where you can customize your mechanical keyboard’s lights according to your preference.
Closing Thoughts On How To Choose A Mechanical Keyboard For Gaming
Your keyboard is one of the most important pieces to your gaming performance. If you want to play at the highest level, you need to use the highest tools as well.
To recap, here are the things you should consider when choosing which mechanical keyboard to buy for gaming:
- Budget – This is your first and most important filter. Choose a comfortable budget and select a keyboard that fits.
- Switches – pick a mechanical keyboard that will fit with your environment, typing style, and personal preference.
- Form Factor – How big do you want your keyboard to be? Do you need a numpad? Or do you want something small and really portable?
- Wireless Capability – Might not be super important to others but this is something you have to consider especially if you plan to heavily use your keyboard for other purposes than gaming.
- RGB – Who doesn’t like lights? Kidding aside, this is not too important but it’s a deal breaker for some people. Just go for lights. They don’t do anything much in terms of your gaming but boy does it look super cool.